All Beverages (Manufacturing and Marketing) Corporation Limited (Bevco) outlets and all toddy shops in Kerala will remain shut, said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday.
Kerala had already declared the closure of bars. The decision to close Bevco outlets and toddy shops was taken at the cabinet meeting held on Wednesday.
"All beverages and toddy shops in Kerala will remain closed till further notice," Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Though the Kerala government announced a total lockdown of the state from March 24, it was decided that Bevco outlets will remain open. It was also said earlier that over the counter sale of alcohol in bars will be allowed, but now it stands cancelled.
The government’s earlier stand to make the Bevco outlets open had drawn severe criticism. Youth Congress members had been holding protests in front of various Bevco outlets across the state demanding their closure for the past few days. On Tuesday, BJP’s Yuva Morcha had also come out demanding the same.
Indian Medical Association members had also approached the government recommending that it is necessary to close down Bevco outlets.
But the government was sticking to its stand till Wednesday, by regulating the timing of Bevco outlets and putting regulations on people standing in queues. But despite this, in many places the crowd management in front of Bevco outlets was not effective, though some videos of people standing at a proper distance from each other in boundaries drawn on the ground, had surfaced on social media.
On Monday, while being questioned by reporters on why Bevco outlets were not closed, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had even quoted Punjab Chief Minister Dr Amarinder Singh’s tweet which says that beverages were ‘essential items’. More importantly, Pinarayi Vijayan had also previously expressed that non availability of alcohol could lead to a lot of social issues in the state and that Kerala has had such experiences in the past.
It is to be noted that the government's present change of stance comes after the Centre announced a nationwide lockdown from March 25 (Wednesday).